|Absence makes the heart grow fonder. -|
No. 144, 30 July 1992
SUCCESSOR STATES TO THE USSR YELTSIN PROPOSES CONSTITUTIONAL REVISIONS. On 29 July, Russian President Boris Yeltsin proposed significant amendments to the draft Russian Constitution at the plenary session of the Supreme Soviet Constitutional Drafting Commission, Russian and Western agencies reported. While reassuring deputies that he did not seek a dictatorship, Yeltsin asked for broader presidential powers. He requested the authority to issue decrees on certain issues for a limited period, and to initiate national referendums. He called for the new constitution to be adopted next year by referendum, and for all future constitutional amendments to be put to a national vote. Yeltsin also proposed the dissolution of the Congress of People's Deputies, calling it an "artificial super-parliament." The draft constitution had been adopted "in principle" at the last congress session in April, but the drafting commission is now expected to make revisions and present a new version by October. (Carla Thorson) WORK ON DRAFT CIS CHARTER. Experts from the nine states that ratified the CIS treaty have started work in Minsk on drawing up a revised draft charter for the CIS that will finally define the rights and obligations of member-states, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 July. A draft charter was put on the agenda of the 30 December 1991 meeting of CIS heads of states but had to be withdrawn because of Ukrainian objections. A new draft was submitted for discussion at the 6 July summit in Moscow, but was not approved. Instructions were given that a revised draft should be prepared in time for the next summit in Bishkek on 25 September. (Ann Sheehy) DRAFT CIS AGREEMENT ON DEPORTED INDIVIDUALS AND PEOPLES READY. Work on a draft agreement on restoring the rights of deported individuals, national minorities and peoples was completed by a working group in the CIS headquarters in Minsk on 29 July, BelInform-TASS reported. The draft, which was signed by the nine full CIS members, will be submitted to the next CIS summit in Bishkek. It provides for joint efforts to deal with the social problems of deportees including ensuring guarantees for pensioners and assistance and tax breaks for those resettling in the areas from which they were deported. Since Georgia is not a CIS member and did not sign the agreement, the Meskhetian Turks will presumably not be covered by it. (Ann Sheehy) SHAKHRAI ASKS GORBACHEV TO TESTIFY AT CPSU HEARINGS. The Constitutional Court hearings on the banning of the CPSU continued on 29July with more testimony on the Communist Party Central Committee's support for the August 1991 coup attempt, and on alleged illegal funding activities, "Vesti" reported. Meanwhile, according to Interfax, Yeltsin's legal representative at the court hearings, Sergei Shakhrai, met with Mikhail Gorbachev, and requested that the former Soviet president and CPSU general secretary address the court. (Carla Thorson) STANKEVICH ON TURN IN RUSSIAN FOREIGN POLICY. Presidential advisor, Sergei Stankevich, has praised the foreign policy of President Boris Yeltsin and Vice-president Aleksandr Rutskoi for stabilizing the situation in the Trans-Dniester region and in South Ossetia. He wrote in Rossiiskaya gazeta on 28 July that previously Russian foreign policy had failed to establish peace in these areas because it lacked decisiveness and initiative. He described the change in Russia's foreign policy toward Moldova and Georgia as a sign that Russia is again seeing itself as a great power. He, however, rejected the use of any kind of military actions in Russian diplomacy. (Alexander Rahr) PEACEMAKING FORCES DEPLOYED IN MOLDOVA. Under the Yeltsin-Snegur agreement of 21July, "peacemaking" forces consisting of Russian, Moldovan, and "Dniester" units began on 29July to take up positions in the conflict zone in eastern Moldova. According to Russian and Moldovan media, Russia contributed a "limited troop contingent" of six battalions drawn from the Tula and Pskov paratroop divisions; while Moldova and the "Dniester" forces provided three battalions each. The "peacemaking" troops are mandated to enforce the cease-fire and the separation of forces, and are authorized to use force. The Russian and "Dniester" battalions are being deployed in areas hitherto held by "Dniester" insurgents and the Moldovan battalions in the Moldovan bridgeheads on the left-bank. Three of the Russian battalions are due to arrive in the right-bank city of Bendery. The peacemaking forces will operate under the authority of a "Joint Control Commission," a military body comprised of Russian, Moldovan, and "Dniester" representatives. (Vladimir Socor) RUSSIAN TROOPS TO STAY IN BELARUS FOR SEVEN YEARS. The chairman of the Belarusian parliament, Stanislav Shushkevich, was quoted by the Belarusian paper Zvyazda on 28 July as saying that Russian troops would withdraw from the republic in seven years. According to the ITAR-TASS account of the interview he said that the Belarusian military would grow to 100,000 people during the same period. On 15 July a Belarusian parliamentary official had indicated that a treaty was in the offing that would allow for a force of 30,000 Russian military in the republic. (Doug Clarke) OFFICERS ASSEMBLY IN ODESSA. The first Ukrainian officers assembly took place on 28 July in Odessa, the headquarters of the Odessa Military District, Radio Mayak reported. The gathering of more than 500 officers elected a presidium and working organs, then heard a speech by district commander Lt. Gen. Vitalii Radetsky. The meeting was held in the same hall where, according to the report, a half-year ago, then Ukrainian presidential candidate, Leonid Kravchuk made a number of promises to the officers concerning conditions of service in Ukraine. Officers living standards remain low, however, and there were reportedly sharp exchanges between the officers and Defense Minister Konstantyn Morozov on this count. Morozov also addressed the Black Sea Fleet controversy, saying that Kiev was prepared to make compromises on a number of issues, including that of temporary basing rights, but would not do so until Moscow recognized Ukraine's sovereign status. (Stephen Foye) UKRAINE LAUNCHES FLAGSHIP IN NIKOLAEV. On 28 July, in a festive ceremony attended by thousands, Ukraine launched a 6,000 ton vessel, called the "Slavutich," which is to become the flagship of an independent Ukrainian navy, Reuters reported. In accordance with the Dagomys agreement, which prohibits unilateral changes in the status of the fleet, the ship will reportedly not fly the Ukrainian ensign. (Stephen Foye) NO DECISION ON NOVAYA ZEMLYA. Members of a special commission drawn from the Council of Ministers of the Komi Republic failed to reach a consensus on the issue of holding nuclear tests at the Novaya Zemlya test site, ITAR-TASS reported on 29July. The question of testing arose from a decree issued by Boris Yeltsin on 27 February of this year that made Novaya Zemlya the main Russian atomic testing site. Last year the Komi Supreme Soviet objected to proposals for further nuclear testing on the island. (Stephen Foye) AGREEMENT ON JOINT BORDER GUARDS. ASSA-IRADA reported on 29 July that Azerbaijan and Russia had signed a two-year cooperation agreement on guarding Azerbaijan's southern borders (with Iran and Turkey). Azerbaijan will reportedly send its border personnel to Russia for training. The joint border forces will have absolute authority on the border. (Stephen Foye) UPDATE: RUSSIAN ARMS EXPORTS. By order of a Russian government ruling on 24 July, Russian defense firms will henceforth be issued licenses by the Ministry for Economic Relations for the export of arms' components to other countries, including those in the CIS The order is reportedly aimed at prohibiting such exports to CIS "hot spots" and at complying with international restrictions on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Meanwhile, a document signed by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Georgii Khizha gave the state-owned defense company, BAZALT, the right to export technology and licenses for the production of ammunition. It also gave the company the right to pursue research on new types of ammunition for foreign clients, keeping in mind the interests of the Russian Defense Ministry. These sales are also to be conducted through the Ministry for Economic Relations. Both reports were carried by Interfax on 29 July. (Stephen Foye) RUSSIAN MINIMUM WAGE TO BE RAISED. Russian Labor Minister Gennadii Melikyan told a news conference in Moscow on 29 July that the minimum wage in the Russian Federation will be raised in late August from the current 900 rubles to 1,350 rubles a month, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. He said that the average monthly wage in June was 4,400 rubles: it had increased by a factor of four during the first half of 1992. Melikyan announced that the pay scales for state-financed enterprises would be adjusted to eliminate the present huge discrepancies that provoke labor unrest. He ruled out full indexation of wages, as this would inevitably lead to hyperinflation, but he promised the introduction of partial indexation on a quarterly basis and one-off compensation payments for the socially underprivileged. (Keith Bush) REDUCED FORECAST OF UNEMPLOYMENT IN RUSSIA. Melikyan gave a different figure for the current number of unemployed in Russia than did Vladimir Goncharov, a deputy chairman of the Russian Employment Committee, who was interviewed by ITAR-TASS. Melikyan put the number of registered unemployed by 1 July at 108,000, while Goncharov gave a figure of 202,879. But both agreed that the projected number of unemployed by the end of the year is now two million. Neither official explained the discrepancy between these figures and earlier forecasts of at least 6 million by the end of 1992. Possible reasons are the failure to enact and implement bankruptcy legislation, the continuing inaction over interenterprise debts, and the general softening of monetary policies. (Keith Bush) UKRAINIAN-HUNGARIAN COMMISSION ON MINORITIES. The first meeting of the Ukrainian- Hungarian commission on questions of national minorities met in Budapest, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 July. The main result of the session was an agreement to open more border control points. The commission was created as a result of last year's agreement between the two countries on the protection of national minorities in each other's countries. The meeting in Budapest also resolved to coordinate the preparation of materials for textbooks on history and geography. (Roman Solchanyk) MORE ANTI-CAUCASIAN DISTURBANCES IN RUSSIA. On the night of 28/29 July kiosks with goods belonging to Azerbaijanis were burnt in Ulyanovsk, ITAR-TASS reported. Previously, a crowd had destroyed stalls and beat up the tradesmen in the central market where Central Asians and Caucasians trade. According to Izvestiya of 29 July, there have recently been anti-Caucasian incidents in Norilsk and Sayanogorsk in Siberia, resulting in mass disorders and demands for the expulsion of all southerners. Izvestiya noted that the conflicts with the Caucasians, chiefly Azerbaijanis often take place under the influence of alcohol. (Ann Sheehy) AZERBAIJANI PARLIAMENT REJECTS DEFENSE MINISTER'S RESIGNATION. On 29 July the Azerbaijani parliament refused to accept the resignation of Defense Minister Rahim Kaziev, reportedly the most popular political figure in Azerbaijan, Russian TV reported. Kaziev's resignation was apparently offered to protest the appointment as military procurator of former Baku Deputy Procurator R. Alyev, and "the atmosphere inside President Abulfaz Elchibei's team." (Liz Fuller) UZBEKISTAN MOVES TOWARD LATIN ALPHABET. Uzbekistan is conducting studies in preparation for the adoption of the Latin alphabet, the Uzbek deputy minister of education, Gadritdim Gulametdinov, told the Turkish news agency Anatolia on 29 July. Gulametdinov was in Ankara accompanying the first group of 2,000 Uzbek students invited to study in Turkey. Since Uzbekistan decided to re-introduce Uzbek as the official language of that republic in 1989, controversy has raged on the question of abandoning the Cyrillic script, mandated in 1939, in favor of Arabic or Latin. Turkey has been actively promoting use of Latin script.(Cassandra Cavanaugh) NEW RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR IN ASHGABAT. Vadim Cherepov was confirmed by Turkmenistan President Saparmurad Niyazov as Russia's ambassador on 29 July, Radio Rossii reported. After the ceremony President Niyazov announced that a Turkmen embassy would open in the Russian capital shortly. Ambassador Cherepov took the occasion to remark that Russian-Turkmen relations were good, and that the situation of the Russian minority in Turkmenistan is much better than that in other former Soviet republics. (Cassandra Cavanaugh) RUSSIAN CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATS DEFEND YAKUNIN AND PONOMAREV. "Vesti" reported on 26 July that the Russian Christian-Democratic Union sent a letter to President Yeltsin protesting the legal action being brought by the Russian Prosecutor's Office against the leader of the Union, Gleb Yakunin, and people's deputy Lev Ponomarev. Both have been accused of disclosing information from the CPSU Central Committee Archives about KGB agents within the Russian Orthodox Church. (Oxana Antic) CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE BOSNIAN FIGHTING UPDATE. Radio Croatia reported on 29 July that officials of the Yugoslav army and the Croatian military, meeting aboard the HMS Avenger in the Adriatic, reached an agreement for the Yugoslav Army to withdraw from positions it holds around Dubrovnik within eight days. Meanwhile, a UN convoy carrying 200 tons of supplies from Split to Sarajevo safely reached its destination on the 30th. The same day the Turkish Foreign Ministry announced that Bosnian vice president Ejup Ganic has requested Turkey's support for a lifting of the international arms embargo on the former republics of Yugoslaviaor that a special exemption be made for Bosnia-Herzegovinaand that Turkey is prepared to back "Bosnia's right to defend itself." International media carried the story. (Gordon Bardos) UN CONFERENCE ON REFUGEES. On 29 July the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' conference on aid for refugees from the former Yugoslavia convened in Geneva. Officials from 61 countries pledged $114,500,000 to help deal with the exodus of refugees from the region, but had difficulty agreeing on proposals to shelter the refugees or to assist their return home. Officials say the main problem is the destruction of towns and villages in conflict areas. According to Sadako Ogata, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, "ethnic cleansing lies at the heart of this conflict." Though she did not mention which group was responsible, most countries have laid most of the blame on Serbia. International media carried the reports. (Milan Andrejevich) PANIC ON THE MOVE. Yugoslav prime minister Milan Panic addressed the Geneva meeting, telling the delegates that Yugoslavia would do everything in its power to establish a cease-fire in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the most logical and comprehensive solution to the refugee problem. He repeated his call for a gradual opening of communications among all former Yugoslav republics. German delegates walked out in protest during Panic's speech. Panic stated that "he was astonished by the level of politicization" at the conference. Later in the day, Radio Serbia reports, Panic held talks with British Prime Minister Major in London. Panic said that if need be he would go to Sarajevo to stop the fighting; in an interview he told CNN that he has already reached agreement in principle to begin disarming the warring factions at Gorazde. MTI and Radio Budapest report that Panic will fly directly from Geneva to Budapest for talks with Hungarian prime minister Jozsef Antall on 30July and will continue on to Germany and Austria to press his peace efforts. (Milan Andrejevich & Edith Oltay) SLOVAKIA TO ESTABLISH HOME GUARD. Speaking on Slovak TV on 29 July, Slovak interior minister Gen. Jozef Tuchyna said that Slovakia plans to establish two brigades and five regiments of the so-called home guard before the end of the year. This special army will operate in Slovakia's interior, protecting "interests of the population, special objects, water sources, etc." According to Tuchyna, the regular army, "with its current composition," could not fulfill such tasks. Tuchyna claimed that the official Czechoslovak military doctrine makes the creation of home guard units possible. The home guard units could be seen as the nucleus of a Slovak army. (Jiri Pehe) HUNGARIAN-SLOVAK RELATIONS. Tamas Katona, Hungarian state secretary in the prime minister's office, and Slovak prime minister Vladimir Meciar agreed in talks in Bratislava on 28 July to set up a hot-line between the two prime ministers' offices, Radio Budapest and Western news agencies report. Radio Budapest said Meciar proposed the hot-line because "the Hungarian media falsifies what I say, which has almost led to a deterioration of relations." The two officials also discussed opening military barracks to mutual inspections. Meciar recently accused Hungary of conducting large-scale military exercises on it border with Slovakia. Hungary denied making any threatening military moves, and Katona sought to assure Meciar that Hungary is ready to cooperate with an independent Slovakia. (Edith Oltay) ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT ON TRANSYLVANIAN PROTESTS. In a briefing of the press on 29 July, government spokeswoman Virginia Gheorghiu said the executive had examined a report by Premier Theodor Stolojan on his discussions with representatives of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (HDFR) and the Democratic Convention. According to Radio Bucharest, members of the government proposed several solutions based on the principle that the executive is entitled to nominate the prefects. It was also emphasized that local governments are not subordinated to the prefects. The government decided to "continue the dialogue with delegations representing the HDFR and the Democratic Convention from the counties of Harghita and Covasna." (Michael Shafir) ESTONIA PROTESTS MONDAY ACTION. On 29July the Estonian Foreign Ministry presented an official note of protest to Russia's representative in Tallinn over the 27 July incident between Estonian and Russian forces. According to BNS, the note protested what it called Russia's "attempt at destabilizing" Estonia. The implications of the incident remain unclear. Although the Estonian government has now twice defended the actions of its Defense Forces, it has also, in seeming contradiction, suspended from duty all general staff officers and set up a special commission to investigate the affair. On 29July the conservative election coalition Pro Patria called for removal of Defense Minster Ulo Uluots because of the incidents, while another coalition, The Reasonable Ones, criticized the action as poorly organized and incompetently run. (Riina Kionka) MORE ESTONIAN ELECTION NEWS. Preparations for Estonia's 20 September general election are in high gear. On 29 July Pro Patria announced its list of candidates for the 101 seats in the State Assembly, and another election coalition, the Independent Nationalists' Union, was formed, bringing the total number of registered coalitions to five. The 101 can-didates of the Estonian National Independence Party met in Tallinn on 29 July to discuss strategy. (Riina Kionka) LITHUANIA FORMS ELECTION COMMISSION. The first meeting of the newly formed Chief Elections Commission of Lithuania will be held on 31 July, BNS reports. Its main task will be the formation of 71electoral districts to replace the current 141 for the October parliamentary elections. Seventeen political parties and movements, ranging from the Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party on the left to the Lithuanian Freedom League on the right, will sent representatives to the commission. Chairman Vaclovas Litvinas was appointed by parliament on 23 July. (Saulius Girnius) BULGARIAN COURT ON DECOMMUNIZATION. On 29 July the Bulgarian Constitutional Court announced a series of decisions that go against UDF policy toward former high-ranking members of communist and communist-affiliated organizations. According to a statement carried by BTA, the Constitutional Court declared two articles of recent legislation unconstitutionala 15-year ban on employment in the banking sector and a provision depriving ex-officials of such organizations from claiming pensions. The court also rejected a claim by UDF deputies declaring a previous law safeguarding the property rights of such organizations unconstitutional. (Kjell Engelbrekt) POLISH-GERMAN TALKS. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel and his Polish counterpart, Krzysztof Skubiszewski, signed border and customs cooperation agreements in Warsaw on 29 July. The two agreed that the period of dramatic breakthroughs in bilateral relations had passed; now practical measures were central. Kinkel met with President Walesa and Prime Minister Suchocka, and thanked the Polish government for its treatment of the German minority. Kinkel pledged Germany's support for Polish membership in the EC but said that Poland's economy must first become more compatible with the economies of EC countries. (Louisa Vinton) PROSPECTS FOR CZECH, SLOVAK EC MEMBERSHIP. In an interview with the Prague Post on 28July, Leopold Guinti, the EC Ambassador to Czechoslovakia, said that in case Czechoslovakia splits, the EC will not support the idea of a joint Czech-Slovak representation. He also said that after a split, the current association treaty between Czechoslovakia and EC will not be applicable to the two new states; they will have to negotiate their own treaties. Guinti also said that there are many reasons why foreign investors prefer the Czech Republic to Slovakia, including the negative image of Slovak leaders. He also said that Slovakia is not seen as a stable region and that its economic policies are unclear. However, "for security reasons," the EC will have equal interest in both new states. (Jiri Pehe) ROMANIA AND THE EC. Mechtild von Alemann, first vice-president of the European Parliament, said that the agreement for Romania's association with the European Community will be signed in October. Von Alemann's delegation visiting Romania conducted talks with parliamentary deputies and other personalities. Her statement was carried by Rompres on 28July. (Michael Shafir) POLISH AUTO WORKERS REJECT SETTLEMENT. Striking workers at the FSM auto plant in Tychy on 29 July rejected a wage offer from management that was negotiated by Solidarity and the plant's trade union representation. Privatization minister Janusz Lewandowski warned that the government "will not tolerate" wage increases granted under pressure from wildcat strikes. The Tychy strike is technically illegal because mandated collective bargaining has been neglected. Negotiations also collapsed on 29July at the Polska Miedz copper combine; two strikers there began hunger strikes. Workers at the Krasnik ball-bearing factory staged a two-hour warning strike on 29 July. (Louisa Vinton) ECONOMIC OUTLOOK FOR POLAND: RECESSION ENDING. Central planning chief Jerzy Kropiwnicki predicted at a press conference on 29July that the decline in industrial production would be halted and minimal growth recorded by the end of 1992. His "optimistic scenario" for the year puts GDP at 2% below the 1991 level; unemployment at 2.9 million; and yearly inflation below 45%. Exports are to rise by 9.7% and imports to drop by 5.6%. The drought is expected to lead to an 11% overall decline in agricultural production. The Polish statistical office listed the positive economic trends noted in the first half of 1992: industrial production was 8.7% below 1991 levels after three months, but after six months the gap was only 3%; labor productivity rose for the first time in two years; exports rose 12.5% while imports dropped 8%; and the private sector accounted for 27% of industrial production and 75% of construction. Real wages dropped by 4.4%. (Louisa Vinton) BULGARIA'S LAND RESTITUTION. Although so far only 10% of the land confiscated by the communist regime in the 1940s and 1950s has been restored to its lawful owners, that figure is estimated to reach 25% by the end of the year, Deputy Agriculture Minister Ventseslav Stoyanov told Reuters on 28 July. The major problem is that some land has been used for industrial purposes and can no longer be returned. Therefore, Stoyanov explained, some of the 1.6 million former landowners will have to settle for compensation, either in the form of an equivalent piece of property or in securities or cash. (Kjell Engelbrekt) LATVIA PLANS MORE CUSTOMS CHECKS, VISAS. On 1 September Latvia plans to start customs inspections of trains crossing its borders, Diena reported on 27 July. This will mean a change in train schedules, adding 30-45 minutes to travel time. Passengers and their luggage will be checked at random. A visa system is also planned for travel to and from the CIS states, Diena reported on 24July. Contrary to rumors, visas will not be required on 1 August but at some future time that has not yet been decided. (Dzintra Bungs) RUSSIANS OFFER TO SELL WEAPONS TO LITHUANIA. On 29 July Lithuanian parliament press spokesman Audrius Azubalis confirmed the existence of a Russian government decree dated 9July, published in the Moscow newspaper, Den, Radio Lithuania reports. The decree authorizes the sale to Lithuania of small arms and ammunition for $52.4million to be paid in rubles or in exchange for food and consumer goods from Lithuania. Azubalis noted that the sale of weapons was agreed at the January meeting between Boris Yeltsin and Vytautas Landsbergis although specific quantities and prices were not mentioned and Lithuania reserved the right to accept or reject the offer of "large amounts at high prices." (Saulius Girnius) RUSSIAN, BALTIC FOREIGN MINISTERS TO MEET. Russian foreign minister Andrei Kozyrev is set to meet his three Baltic counterparts in Moscow on 6August, BNS reports. According to a Russian Foreign Ministry press spokesman, the four will discuss timetables for troop withdrawals and "discrimination against Russians and Russian-speakers living in the Baltic States." (Riina Kionka) QUEEN OF DENMARK VISITS BALTIC STATES. Denmark's Queen Margarethe II and Prince Frederic arrive in Riga on 30 July after a two-day stay in Estonia. While in Latvia the queen is to meet with government officials, members of the Supreme Council, and artists; open an exhibition of Danish design; visit historic sites; and host a lunch. She will depart for Vilnius during the afternoon of 31July. The visit to the three Baltic States is intended to cement friendly relations and cooperation, BNS reported on 29 July. (Dzintra Bungs)
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